Laurie Elish-Piper has put the support and expertise of the NIU College of Education behind a new alliance calling on leaders to address the state’s urgent need to increase the number of teachers and to elevate the teaching profession in 2018 and beyond.
Members of the diverse coalition – Teachers for Illinois’ Future: Investing in teachers for all students today and tomorrow – include teachers, K-12 administrators, higher education institutions and advocacy organizations.
Higher education must “help young people and career-changers see that being a teacher is a noble, rewarding and exciting profession,” says Elish-Piper, dean of the College of Education.
What that requires is “mentoring and induction support to help new teachers be successful,” she adds, along with professional development for educators across their careers to keep them in the profession.
“Entry into the teaching profession needs to be more accessible so motivated, qualified individuals can become teachers. Additionally, we need to diversify the teaching profession so it more accurately reflects the PK-12 student population,” Elish-Piper says. “There is so much we need to do, which is why I’m thrilled to be part of this statewide coalition that represents multiple sectors, all working together to benefit education in the state of Illinois.”
Over the last decade, the supply of future Illinois teachers has tightened. This shortage varies by region and subject area and is most acute outside of the Chicagoland area in rural and suburban districts. The subjects where this shortage is most severe include special education, bilingual, high school STEM teachers, and career and technical education.
All students are impacted: Schools are forced to hire substitute teachers in lieu of fulltime teachers, cancel classes and convert classes to online instruction.
The Teachers for Illinois’ Future coalition is a collaborative effort to:
- Ensure students have the teachers they need in order to learn.
- Support teachers’ growth from exploration of profession and throughout their career.
- Increase the respect for and the desirability of the teaching profession.
- Provide school and program leaders with systemic flexibility to meet their students’ needs.